Butthead: Man, this is better than just WATCHING TV any day! Atari rules!
Beavis: Yeah, just watching TV sucks! muhehehheheheheh
Beavis: Especially this River Raid game! That's intense!
Butthead (looking at River Raid instruction booklet): Hey! You know a chick designed this game?
Beavis: No way!
Butthead (showing him photo of game designer Carol Shaw): Way! Whoa...
Yep, River Raid made video game history in all kinds of ways, especially since it was a scrolling shooter, which there were only a handful of those made for the 2600 (and probably none of them came close to touching River Raid's excellence), it was an excellent game, none of the screens repeated (does the game ever end, by the way? It can't go on forever, can it?), and, yes, it was designed by a woman, which that was pretty rare back then.
In this gold-plated classic, you control a plane that flies over a river (and just how long IS this river anyway?) and you must destroy as many targets as you can. You can speed the action up or down, but you can't touch any land masses, or else your plane will go down faster than Braniff airlines did. You'll meet all kinds of opposition along the way, such as helicopters, other planes, bridges, and the funny guy from Speed and Speed 2 who keeps on getting his recreational vehicles beaten up by cops (ok, so he's not in here, but that would've been pretty cool, especially since Speed 2 was crap, in my opinion; River Raid's better than that "Die Hard on a boat" movie any day!).
The game starts out rather spaciously, routes-wise, but then as you get better and get farther along into the game, the spaces narrow, making it pretty hard to get past obstacles and enemies without losing any lives. Luckily, though, whenever you destroy a bridge, your next plane in reserve (when you die) will restart at that position, rather than at the very beginning, and the action won't start until you make a movement with your controller. So you have a nice pause feature there in order to catch your breath, which wasn't very common during the 2600 days.
Another thing that was different with this game is that instead of shooting fuel tanks in order to add more fuel to your tank, you have to dock with them instead (which is somewhat more realistic anyway). But, alas, after a while, the fuel tanks start getting scarce as well, and if you lose your fuel, you lose another airplane too, of course.
By the way, this review really doesn't give this excellent game the justice it deserves: the action, the smooth scrolling, the sounds are decent (especially the delightful sound when your fuel tank is full -- don't count on having THAT last forever!), everything is great, the only small complaint I have is that there's no way to save a game ('course, with the 2600, I think the only game where you could enter passwords was Secret Quest anyway), and after playing it a ton, starting over from the very beginning when you feel like dusting off a game every now and then gets old, but oh well. It's still just totally amazing for the 2600 though.
I can't thank Ms. Carol Shaw enough as it is for this game. I wonder what she's up to nowadays? Hopefully all is well.
River Raid: more fun than a can of Raid any day, especially in the hands of a couple of